Make your locks last longer.
No one likes to have to call a locksmith out to fix a stubborn lock. So let’s talk about things that you can do to make your locks last longer. Sometimes doing some checking and routine maintenance on your own can help you to avoid having to call a locksmith to repair broken locks. Here are some suggestions of things to check on and ways that you can keep your door hardware in good working order for longer.
Check the Screws
Checking the screws related to your door hardware (in both the latch and the doorknob/Deadbolt) is an important and simple step that you can take to help maintain your locks. As a locksmith for 15 years, one of the most common problems that I see is door hardware that is loose. Over time, and with use, the screws in the door hardware can come loose. When that happens, the lock will begin to fail very quickly or need serious repair. But be careful, there is such a thing as TOO TIGHT.
Also, be sure to use the correct screws. Screws that are to long can damage the lock hardware. If you do not have screws that are the correct length, check with your locksmith. We just might have some that we can give you.
Check the Door Knob for needed repair
Ok, time for a little doorknob anatomy. Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz… the latch is the part of the doorknob that sticks out of the side of the door. (Deadbolts are different, and we will talk about them later.) The doorknob latch should move in and out freely. It should be firm and not move from side to side otherwise it will need repair. It should have screws in it. If any of these things are not the case, then the lock needs attention.
Does it move in and out freely
If the door latch does not move in and out freely, then it needs to be either lubricated or replaced. (We will talk more about lubrication later.) If the latch is broken, you will need to replace it. Contact your locksmith for replacement parts. We can frequently get you parts to fix your lock without you needing to replace the whole lock.
In this picture, we see a latch that need repair. Notice the blue arrow, there is a part missing. This is called the dead latch. In a properly operating latch, this piece would be held in when the door is closed. It would prevent the door latch from being to be able to be jimmied open with a
credit card. This one is missing. This door would be able to be easily opened. Also, notice the red arrows. You can see where the latch has been rubbing on the door frame. This is a sign that the door is not functioning properly. The door needs to be serviced, either by repairing the hinges or adjusting the strike,
If it is sloppy or moves side to side
If the door latch is sloppy (has some side to side movement), then you will need to replace the lock. That sloppiness means that the latch is failing. The latch is the business part of the lock. It is what holds the door closed. If the latch has become sloppy, it is close to being unable to keep the door from being able to open and close properly.
If it is missing screws, replace them
Latches missing screws will drastically shorten the life of the lock. When replacing the missing screws, however, take care to use the appropriate screws. Screws that are too long can damage the lock, and screws that are too small will just fall out. Here’s a trick to use if the screw does not hold. Try inserting a small piece of a toothpick in the screw hole to help the screw bite into the door.
Check the Deadbolt For needed repair
As with your doorknob, check to make sure that all the screws are tight. While in your doorknob, the part that extends is called a latch, in your deadbolt, the part that extends out of the side of the door is called the bolt. Like the latch, the bolt should also move in and out freely, without any sloppiness. It should also be able to fully extend into the door jamb. If it does not you will need to repair it by adjusting either the door or jamb.
Check the Hinges for needed repair
Hinges may not seem like part of your doors locking, but they are integral to the proper functioning of the lock. If the hinge is damaged or out of alignment, it can cause many different problems with the door. Check to make sure that all of the hinge screws are tight and that none of your hinges are bent. If they are they will need repair by tightening the screws or doing some of the things that we will discuss next. Over time, a heavy door can cause the top hinge to spread, and this can cause the door to rub and the latch to not hit properly. Hinges can also stretch when people (including children) hang on a door.
The simplest way to fix this problem is to replace the hinge, however this can be made difficult by the screws that hold the hinge in place. There is another way to fix this problem, but it can be a little challenging. As a Locksmith I have special tools that will allow me to correct this problem, however, you can use a crescent wrench to bend the hinge back together. With the door closed, place the crescent wrench on one of the knuckles of the top hinge and bend it back into shape. Be careful with this fix, it is easy to over correct and cause damage to the hinge and require greater repair.
Lubricate your Locks
We all know the idiom if it moves and it’s not supposed to, use duct tape, and if it doesn’t move when it’s supposed to, use WD40. However, NOTHING could be FARTHER from the truth! DO NOT LUBRICATE YOUR LOCK WITH WD40! WD40 is not designed to work as a lubricant. It will work for a little while, but within hours it will start to get sticky. It will hold onto dust and fine particulates within your lock. A lock is a finely tuned piece of hardware. Parts of it are made to work within thousandths of an inch. Over time, WD40 will cause your lock to work MUCH WORSE. (By the way, graphite is not a good choice, either.)
Use a lubricant that is made to be used as a lubricant. You want to use something in your locks and hinges that is going to stay vicious, and not get sticky over time. My favorite is a product called TriFlow. You can find it at your local bicycle shop or on Amazon. TriFlow is designed to be a bicycle chain lubricant. It will stick in the lock for a long time and will not interfere with the delicate internal mechanisms of your lock by gumming up the works.
As with most things in life, a little care and concern will go a long way towards making sure that your locks can last you a very long time and stay in good working order. A little repair now can save costly repair later. If you have locks that are not working well, give your locksmith a call. A little investment now can help to keep your home more secure and to keep your locks functioning for a very long time. Betach LLC is YOUR local locksmith. We can keep all your locks working for the life of your home.